One of the 17 mega-diversity countries of the world, India is ranked 8th in terms of species richness. In only 2.4% of the world's land area, India harbors 7-8% of all recorded species, including over 48,000 species of plants and over 1,00,000 species of animals. For India, conservation of biodiversity is crucial not only because it provides several goods and services necessary for human survival, but also because it is directly linked with providing livelihoods and improving socio-economic conditions for millions of local people, thereby contributing to sustainable development and poverty alleviation. Biodiversity management in India and the associated financing is truly an inter-sectoral subject. The adoption of India’s NBAP (NBAP, 2008 & Addendum 2014 to NBAP, 2008) have not lead to allocation of funds for its implementation as the NBAP is essentially a strategic policy document. Rather, it was envisaged to implement the objectives of NBAP through schemes and programmes of relevant ministries; with the NBAP providing the sectoral ministries with a flexibility to integrate biodiversity concerns in their respective schemes. Public funding has been and will remain to be the mainstay of biodiversity finance in the country. Financial resource flows to the biodiversity sector include core funding administered through the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and the non-core and peripheral funding that are allocated by as many as 23 other scientific and development Ministries/Departments of the GoI towards schemes and programmes that have a bearing on biodiversity conservation; as well as the funding by the State Governments on biodiversity and environment. In addition funding from private sector, ODA, philanthropy etc. are other sources of biodiversity finance in the country. Launched in May 2015, BIOFIN in India is led by the MoEFCC and hosted by the National Biodiversity Authority, Government of India. In addition to national level implementation the project is also being implemented at the subnational level in 3 states namely Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh.
Prioritised Finance Solutions
- Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Agriculture: increasing the biodiversity-relevance of government funded schemes in agriculture: In the case of biodiversity, sole focus on conservation policies /measures such as in-situ and ex-situ conservation, will have only limited impact in reducing biodiversity loss. It is in sectors such as agriculture, mining, etc. where measures need to be targeted for mainstreaming biodiversity for enhanced outcomes in the area of biodiversity conservation and finance. Given the preponderance of public finance in biodiversity conservation, mainstreaming biodiversity in government programmes would be one the priority financial solutions for reducing the funding gap for NBAP implementation. BER process has identified 116 schemes of 24 line ministries having varied degrees of relevance to biodiversity and has indicated that the Ministry of Agriculture is one of the top 7 Ministries contributing to biodiversity finance. The focus of this finance solution is to enhance public finance for agro-biodiversity conservation by enhancing fund flow in biodiversity relevant components of identified schemes of Ministry of Agriculture (GOI). This is essential to prevent further agro-biodiversity erosion which would result in sustainable agriculture and food security.
- Corporate Social Responsibility: BIOFIN assessments indicates that there is a huge opportunity to develop and implement conservation projects through CSR funds. Currently CSR expenditure for biodiversity is negligible and amounts to nearly 2-3% of total CSR expenditure. This financial solution aims to demonstrate enhancement of CSR funds for biodiversity conservation in some of the priority areas of NBAP (like Wetland restoration and conservation & Conservation of endangered plant species) and policy reforms for earmarking certain percentage of CSR funds for biodiversity conservation in identified sectors (which have or may have an impact on biodiversity conservation).
- Enhancing Resources for Benefit Sharing from Access, Utilization, etc of Bio-Resources: India is a front runner in implementation of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS). However, there is still a long way to go in terms of bringing all current users of bio-resources within the ambit of ABS. This financial solution aims to unlock the full potential of ABS as a finance mechanism through identifying and bringing all currently illegal users of bio-resources within ambit of ABS. In turn, this would lead to enhancement of ABS revenues on a sustainable basis.
In India PIR stands for Programme and Institutional Review. PIR study included species level, ecosystem level, sectoral level and institutional level reviews and analyses of biodiversity finance scenario and related capacities at national and subnational level. Several one to one consultations were held with key stakeholders and reinforced by surveys to assess the institutional capacities (including human, technical and financial capacities etc.) of 29 State Biodiversity Boards (institution mandated for biodiversity governance at the subnational level in 29 states).
Based on a rigorous exercise comprising of technical consultations and guided by the BIOFIN workbook, a customized methodology has been developed in India for assessing the current and projected levels of biodiversity attributable expenditures in the country and to assess financial needs for implementing the NBAP. As a result of research, analysis, wide range of consultations and validation exercise the BER process in India has mapped 116 schemes of 24 central ministries and 29 departments having varied degree of relevnace with biodiversity. Projected annual average public finance attributable to biodiversity (from central and state Govts.) is estimated to be nearly 10 billion USD (@exchange rate of 1 USD=INR 70).
Based on detailed assessments done in consultation with technical experts the annual average financial needs for implementing the National Biodiversity Action Plan is estimated to be nearly 15.6 billion USD (2017-18 to 2021-22). Annual average gap in available public resources for implementing the NBAP is estimated to be nearly USD 5.5 billion for the period 2017-18 to 2021-22. Based on the FNA and BER exercise some of the priority areas for enhancing biodiversity finance includes, Strengthening and integration of in-situ conservation, Regulation of introduction of Invasive Alien species and their Management, Development and integration of biodiversity database, Valuation of goods and services provided by biodiversity and use of economic instruments and decision making processes & International cooperation.
The Biodiversity Finance Plan seeks to facilitate the achievement of India’s biodiversity vision of conserving biodiversity and promoting its sustainable utilization by way of mobilizing resources through mainstreaming National Biodiversity Targets in relevant developmental targets of national priorities in terms of poverty alleviation, food security and elimination of hunger, sustainable livelihoods, women empowerment, health and nutrition, mitigating and adapting to climate change and others. Out of the long list of finance solutions outlined in the finance plan three solutions have been prioritized for implementation. This includes Corporate Social Responsibility, Mainstreaming Biodiversity in public programmes and schemes and Access and Benefit Sharing.
A preliminary and rapid mapping of 50 financial solutions has been done by the Wildlife Institute of India. A detailed assessment of these solutions will be undertaken soon using the BIOFIN workbook.